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I Think I’ve Been “Snake Bit” (at Westmoreland State Park)

September 1, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


Years ago, when things did not go right, my Granddaddy often said, “I’ve been Snake bit.”

It’s funny how I remember that after fifty plus years but can’t remember where I set my glasses down a few minutes ago.

Well, anyway, this past week-end I thought for sure I had been Snake bit.

It all started out on Friday when Nancy and I decided to spend the weekend at Westmoreland State Park in an area known as Virginia’s Middle Peninsula.

Westmoreland is an absolutely beautiful park situated on the Potomac River where George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon home is located.  The views of the river from the bluffs and the trails throughout the park are mesmerizing.

Anyway, back to the Snake bit part of the story……..

The camping sites at Westmoreland have size limits.  Forty feet is the maximum for any of the water and electric RV sites.   Since Westmoreland was only accessible to us by 2-lane secondary roads with low speed limits, we decided to pull the Cedar Creek with the GMC dually rather than the Volvo.  This would save us at least 10 feet in length and allow easier maneuverability into a small campsite.

The problems started as we were going into the park.  I was depending upon our Garmin GPS to direct me to the proper roads.  As we approached Westmoreland the nice lady’s voice inside the GPS told me to turn right onto Old Park Road. I did as I was told – after all, it was a woman’s voice and I know better than to argue when I recognize a voice belonging to the female gender.  I immediately realized that there must be some mistake.  Old Park Road was a one lane dirt and gravel pathway – hardly classifiable as a road.  The dirt part had been turned into gushy mud by a recent rain.  When I began sliding and spinning I shifted the transmission into 4 wheel drive and managed to exit on a hard surface road ahead.  Without the 4WD I would have gotten stuck!

Our Nice, Shaded, Pull-Thru E&W Site at Westmoreland

Minutes later we arrived at the park check-in station.  The truck and camper were covered with mud from our excursion across Old Park Road.  I mentioned to the girl in the office our experience.  Her reply?  “You came in the OLD road.  We don’t use it anymore.  The main entrance and paved road is about 200 yards further up.  Lots of guests tell me their GPS sent them in the way you came.”

Great!  Now why didn’t someone think to put up a sign that said, “Main Park Entrance 200 Yards Ahead.”?  I muttered something about never trusting a woman’s directions.  Fortunately for me, Nancy did not hear me.

We were assigned a pull-thru site in Campground A.  It was a very nice site but faced the “wrong” way.  If we entered via the direction of the road our awning would be facing the road and our backside the picnic table and privacy area.  We elected to turn around and go the wrong way on a one way road (no traffic) to enter the site.  We were able to get on the site easily and carefully positioned camper so that the slide-outs would not hit the encroaching trees.  I had the truck unhitched and the camper jacks down  before I tried to connect to the power pod.  That was a mistake!  The electrical cord was about 6” shy of reaching the plug-in.   With our extension cord in the Volvo back home, I had no choice but to pull up the jacks, reconnect the truck and pull up another foot.

Beach Front on the Potomac River

After moving the pick-up away from the camper I noticed the outside right rear tire on the dually was flat.  I used my 12 Volt DC air compressor to try and inflate the tire and locate the leak.  That was how I discovered that the valve stem was broken and the tire would have to come off to be repaired.

It is good to have dual wheels on the back of a TV.  If one goes flat, the other will at least allow you to keep going at a slower speed.  The only problem is that the sidewall of the flat tire rubs against the good tire and if you drive too many miles you will ruin both tires.

I left the tire and finished setting up the camper.

Now, not to go into too much detail, but I have an ongoing medical condition that is and has caused considerable nerve degeneration.  Related to this degeneration is significant pain.  To control the pain I take several non-narcotic  prescription medications.

When I looked at the spot in the camper where I normally place my medications transferred from the house, it was empty! I had forgotten to pack my medications!

Nancy’s immediate response was, “Well, we will need to go back and get them.”

I replied, “Honey, the truck has a flat tire.  We aren’t going anywhere until it is fixed.”

I got out my Cedar Creek Emergency Road Service card and called the number on the back.  The associate said he would send out someone that could fix the tire on-site.  They would pay for the call but I would need to pay for parts and labor.  Of course, I agreed.

It didn’t take long for the service truck to arrive.  With a big gas driven air compressor and the right tools it only took him about 30 minutes to pull the tire off, break the inside bead and put in a new high pressure valve stem.

When the wheel was back on the truck he handed me the bill for parts and labor.  I was afraid to look, but when I saw a total of $20.25, I gladly pulled the cash and coin out of my pocket and paid the mechanic.

The truck was now drivable and we could go back home for my meds.  But, it was getting late – around 7:00 p.m. – and the trip back home and then back to the campground would be at least four hours.  Besides, I had two nice tenderloins ready to grill for dinner that I did not want to put back into the refrigerator.

I decided to “tough it out” with no meds rather than drive back home.

All went well until about 3:30 the next morning.  I awoke feeling like I was lying on a stove burner with my front side facing a freezer.  My arms and legs were experiencing pain similar to continuously poking them with the biggest hypodermic needle you can conjure up in your imagination..

I got out of bed and went downstairs to the living room.  A couple of doses from a bottle of Nyquil I found under the bathroom sink helped to abate the pain enough so that I could make it through the night in the Lazy Boy recliner.

The 50's style Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Montross

The next morning, after I had consumed a couple of cups of coffee and a handful of OTC pain relievers,  I didn’t feel too bad -  at least not bad enough to pull up stakes and head home.  So, we decided to stay one more night.  We spent the day sightseeing in the park and nearby town on Montross.  It was there that we discovered the retro Coca-Cola bottling plant with the inlaid concrete casting of the Coca-Cola logo and the beautiful hand painted Coke graphic on the outside of the building.  This is something you just do not see in modern construction.

Pier at Concessions Area on the Potomac River at Westmoreland.

In bed for the night, I could not get to sleep and the longer I lay there, the worse the pain became.  I discovered lying down and being still was the worst thing I could do.  Standing and moving was much less painful – but wandering around the campground at 3 o’clock in the morning is sort of frowned upon by other campers and the Park Rangers patrolling the area.

I made it until daylight (without sleep) and once Nancy was up and ready we packed up and headed for home.  As soon as we pulled into the drive way I made a bee line for the door and my prescription medications.  In about 30 minutes they were into my blood stream and doing their intended job.

I once again remembered my Granddaddy’s saying about being “Snake bit”.  I honestly believe that is what happened to me.

As noted earlier, Westmoreland lives up to Virginia’s reputation for beautiful State Parks and is well worth taking the time to visit – even if you are not camping.  My physical state just prevented me from fully enjoying all it had to offer.  We plan to return again for a second visit – but this time I will be sure to have my prescriptions with me, take the correct entrance road, check my power cord length before unhooking, and hope there are no flat tires!

Standing on the Cliff Overlooking the Potomac River in the Park.

Close-up of the Concrete Inlay on the brick Coca-Cola Plant in Montross.

The bright, clear hand painted graphic on the front of the building.

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